The aim of the incentive payments was to reflect progress in meeting annual and three-year performance goals. The performance goals range from improving graduation rates to increasing fundraising.
The Austin American- Statesman reported that the regents claim the bonuses “infuse higher education management with a business-oriented flavor.”
These bonuses come simultaneously with the announcement of the UT Regents’ approved tuition increases for all 14 system institutions. UTSA tuition will increase $291 for undergraduates and $239 graduate students as of Fall 2016.
Joe Izbrand, associate vice president for UTSA communications and marketing, stated in an email that UTSA president Ricardo Romo and his leadership team are developing a plan for how the additional revenue will be applied.
Two of the system executives who received the biggest incentive payments are Mark Houser, the UT System’s CEO for university oil lands in West Texas and Scott Kelley, the Executive Vice Chancellor for Business Affairs.
Mark Houser, who signed off on the leasing of university owned lands for fracking purposes received a $425,000 bonus, increasing his salary to $1.5 million. Scott Kelley, a member of the group that proposed tuition increases for the UT System, received a $100,964 incentive payment, increasing his salary to $555,325.
William Henrich, president of the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, received an $189,790 bonus, bringing his salary to $1.2 million.
UT System spokeswoman Jenny LaCoste-Caputo said in an email to the Austin American-Statesman that tying compensation to results has been a long and successful strategy in corporate settings.
Seth Hutchinson, vice president and organizing coordinator for the Texas State Employees Union, stated that these bonuses, paired with the tuition increase, would hurt the overall quality of public education.
“Universities are microcosms of what’s going on here in the world, increasing the inequality from those on top and those at the bottom,” Hutchinson said. “The Texas Legislature and Board of Regents need to promote high quality institutions that are affordable for working and middle class students.”
This salary gap in raises is not an unfamiliar situation for UTSA. In an email to the Paisano, a faculty member who did not feel comfortable being named explained that lecturers in their position “ make below poverty level wages. Many of us are on food stamps, even though we have PhDs. My salary for two upper-division courses is spread out over a 12-month period. I make less than $500 per month. The corporatization of the university system is the main reason for the lack of concern for the basic survival of lecturers. Like the assembly line workers in a factory, we get paid the least, while helping maintain the factory and helping the people in power get richer.”
Izbrand explained that the university encourages an open dialogue and told the Paisano that it’s hard to respond to “a generalization that comes from an anonymous source.” When pressed on how the difference in status between adjunct professors and tenured faculty members might affect their willingness to speak out, Izbrand said, “The university values the opinion of all our faculty, whether they be adjunct or tenured.”
According to Chronicle Data, some full-time lecturers at UTSA make $25,182 annually, the lowest lecturer compensation in the 14 campuses in the UT-System.
Broadly, faculty raises within the UT System average around two or three percent — a stark comparison to the executives’ and presidents’ raises, ranging from 18.9 percent to 40.5 percent.
According to 2015 Chronicle Data, UTSA instructors/ lecturers make $25,182 annually; the average annual salary for an assistant professor at UTSA is $71,883 while the average annual salary for associate professors is $83,241. Professors average $118,728 annually.
Before 2003, the Texas Legislature passed HB 3015 that set and regulated tuition for all public institutions. The Legislature later relinquished that power to the respected public institutions Board of Regents.
At the same time, the Legislature cut funding to public institutions, causing tuition to more than double since 2003. According to Hutchison, the legislature sent a clear message: raise tuition.
“There’s a mentality that you have to pull yourself up by your own bootstraps and that leaves a lot of Texans behind because a lot of people don’t have boot straps,” Hutchinson said, “this is going to make it harder and harder for working middle class people to get a quality education.”